Ethics in writing

Whether writers are writing nonfiction or fiction, they owe it to their readers to double check facts, as well as checking for any errors in consistency, punctuation, grammar, spelling, and typos.

Unless writers are giving their work away free of charge, most readers are spending their money for a product; the writer has an ethical responsibility to their reader. Writers need an EDITOR to make sure that their book is as error free as possible.

This is the reason that self-published books have a less than stellar rating. Reviewers are talking about how bad self-pubs are, also the internet. It is true that anyone can write, but not everyone is a writer. Readers hold writers to a standard ingrained by traditional publishers where they edited, and proofread as part of the publishing process.

Writers should hold themselves to this standard. Some indie authors feel there should be no rules. Whether there are or aren’t any rules is not the point, the point is that authors ethically owe their readers work that is the best in can be, edited, and proofread before the reader receives a copy.

If writers have blogs, delve into social media sites, have a web site, in all instances, they shouldn’t use internet shortcut language, they should be practicing their language and writing skills at all times.

Some authors may disagree, but there must be some basic level of ethics in all writers, that make them strive to turn out the best product for the reader. A product that has been fact checked, edited, and proofread by someone other than the author.

Why someone other than the author, simple, the author is too close to the project to be truly objective when it comes to the blue pencil.

Robert Medak
Writer, Blogger, Editor, Reviewer


Shirley Corder said...

Oh yes, Robert, you're so right. Self-publishing has such a bad name, and this is why. SO many people write books and self publish them without having them checked by an outside person. And yes, that should be true of all our writing. Well said!

Heidiwriter said...

You are absolutely correct! Ditto, Shirley.

widdershins said...

So that's the writing ethic, which I wholeheartedly agree with, however, there's also ethical content.

How do artists draw a line that they will not cross when creating their art? It is, of course, different for every artist. There are always personal, political, religious, spiritual, cultural taboos to engage with, or not. Some artists say they produce whatever they want, whatever the consequences, others choose to work within a framework determined by their personal ethic.

There's also the audience's ethics. How do we choose which piece of art to engage with? Be it a book, painting, movie, sculpture, etc. Do we separate it from what we know of it's creator? How does that colour our perception of the artwork?

Magdalena Ball said...

I agree with you Robert - there are 2 aspects to this. The first is not really ethics but more about professionalism. All authors need to take responsibility for the finished product of their book (self-pubbed and traditionally published, as I'm finding that more and more traditional publishers are taking shortcuts with editing) and make sure that what they present is accurate, well-proofread by a professional, and polished. The 2nd aspect is around presenting facts that are true and not embellishing or being inaccurate with dates - something that is particularly important in non-fiction. There have been plenty of controversial cases around this recently.

T. Forehand said...

Great informative post, ethics and professionalism are so important in being recognized in your niche as an authentic and expert author. I loved the interactive comments on this post too because we all look at our writing and the writing of others in some of the same ways and always a tad differently at the same time. Amazing group of talented authors and illustrators in this group.

Karen Cioffi said...

Professional writing and ethics are such a big concern now. There are so many element within this. The news media being insensitive and crude for ratings.

A couple of years ago a grammar school boy was hit by a truck in my area. The local paper photographers took the most horrible shots of the boy lying dead in a pool of blood. My first reaction was that I hoped the parents didn't see the pictures in the papers. What was the point of those photos, aside from a haunting and grizzly image for the parents and loved ones to remember?

I've written about ethics in writing and being a professional writer. Unfortunately a lot of self-publishers don't bother to produce quality work and it does reflect on all of us, as writers and as self-publishers.

Widdershins, that's a whole other area. It's just my option, but I feel artistic freedom should be just that, as long as it's not blatantly imposing its freedom on someone else's sensitivity, beliefs, and freedoms, especially that of children.

Oops, looks like I wrote a post here. :)

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

Bob said...

To all,

When writers begin writing ethically, taking into count the readers and content, than the readers will have more choices for well written books. If readers hold authors accountable, perhaps the self-pub books will improve.

FYI: When reviewing, I never give 5 stars to any book that has errors in grammar, punctuation, typos, awkward sentences, and spelling errors to name a few of the things I see as an avid reader of all genres.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Great points. I think people generally have strong ethics around communication, so shouldn't the same hold true for writing.

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